Our video games consoles have not been solely used for video games for quite some time. Ever since the days of the PS2, which allowed users to play DVDs in its disc drive and not just games, consoles have been steadily gearing up to offer much more as home entertainment platforms. With the PS4 and the Xbox One, the attempts to promote them as the only media box for our televisions has only increased. Consumers are already replacing their cable boxes and Blu-ray players for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video subscriptions and so to cater to these cord cutters, the current generation of consoles had to include these features and then some.
Sony's multimedia push has become a lot more aggressive in the past few months. A recent PS4 update finally brought the YouTube app to the console, they announced PlayStation Vue (a cloud-based TV service that offers live and catch up TV) and they are also gearing up for the premiere of Powers, the TV adaption of a comic book that will serve as the PlayStation Network's first original scripted programming.
But Sony isn't stopping there. As part of their recent media efforts (which included the recent reveal of PlayStation Music, a Spotify-powered music service) Sony will be using the PlayStation Network as the catch all banner for all of its entertainment services, including movies, TV shows, music and games.
From now on, the PlayStation Network will be made up of the PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus (Sony's multiplayer subscription service), PlayStation Video (buy or rent movies or TV shows), PlayStation Music, PlayStation Now (game streaming) and PlayStation Vue. While this change may be slightly confusing due to the fact that several of these services are available on smartphones and PCs and not just PlayStation consoles, it could encourage more PlayStation gamers to sign up to them. As of December 2014, the PlayStation Network had 64 million active users so it's little wonder why Sony is trying to do more to appeal to them.
Andrew House, group chief executive of the PlayStation added:
"We are very excited to offer our wide array of network services including games, TV, videos and music, under the PlayStation brand. We look forward to bringing even more compelling experiences, and an unparalleled breadth and quality of digital entertainment services and content to our customers."
The decision is obviously a very good one for Sony given that the PlayStation side of their business remains healthy despite other branches causing heavy losses, but there are still a few issues that need to be addressed.
First of all, if all of these services come under the PlayStation Network umbrella, does this mean that they will be effected if PSN suffers another attack like the one that crippled the service at the end of last year? Sony also has to understand that even if they did get things up and running (eventually) after the hackers took the service down, the PlayStation Network name is now tarnished and could very well turn people away from all of those extra media services as a result.
Furthermore, could this strategy harm Sony rather than help them? One of the reasons why so many people have bought a PS4 is because Sony was so focused on gaming as Microsoft positioned the Xbox One as an all in one media hub. There are obviously other reasons why the PS4 has sold so well (the pricing helped, as did the upcoming roster of exclusives) but that was definitively a key factor. There's the definite risk that if Sony pushes these services too much they'll alienate the same core user base that signed up to the PlayStation Network (when it was mostly about gaming) in the first place.